Crusaders defender Rodney Brown says he felt Gerard Doherty's anger and frustration when the goalkeeper was targeted by Glentoran fans at the end of the Irish Cup quarter-final.
Missiles were thrown at the former Derry City stopper following the 2-1 defeat at The Oval and the 38-year-old was sent off by referee Andrew Davey after the official saw at least one bottle being thrown towards the Glentoran supporters.
Doherty later claimed that abuse from supporters "oversteps the mark a bit when it turns into sectarian shouts".
Glentoran strongly denied there was any sectarian chanting and while they could be hit with a spectator misconduct charge from the Irish FA, Doherty could receive a heavy suspension.
The Crues keeper, who was frustrated after Robbie McDaid's late penalty dumped the holders out of the tournament, accepted he was wrong to react in the manner he did, saying: "Obviously my reaction is not warranted and I should have been professional enough to deal with the situation and just walk off but we are human beings.
"During the last five or 10 minutes of the game emotions were running high for a lot of people and it boiled over. That was evident to see at the end."
Brown was the first Crues player to usher Doherty away from the supporters and the sides will meet again tomorrow in the Premiership at Seaview.
It could be another feisty affair, with the north Belfast side hungry to exact some revenge.
The issue of verbal abuse has surfaced many times this season and Brown feels the spotlight should fall on fans' behaviour.
"You know what it's like as a player, your emotions are running high and Gerard has just reacted which is not like him," said the former Coleraine man.
"We know what a character he is, I travel up and down the road with him every week and he's not that type of man. I think the abuse was overboard and too much. Fans pay their money in but I don't think players deserve what was said on the day.
"There is a line that shouldn't be crossed. When you're playing you hear stuff but a lot of it you don't because you are focused.
"Gerard is a goalkeeper and he can't move like his team-mates so he's taking the stick for 90 minutes and it's just got the better of him. He's made a mistake and we all do. I'm sure he will learn from it and we'll move on."
With the Crues' Irish Cup defence hitting the buffers, Stephen Baxter's men must try to finish with a flourish and grab a Europa League spot.
The league title isn't over yet but with 10 points separating them and leaders Linfield with only seven games remaining, it's a mammoth task.
At least the Crues restored confidence with a badly-needed 2-1 win at home to Institute.
"The way this season has gone, you never know what way it could end up," added Brown, who also had a spell with Linfield.
"We just want to win as many games as we can and see where we are come the split.
"If we are three or four points behind the top side then anything could happen.
"But we have to stay focused on our next two games and take six points from them.
"In January we were brilliant and then February brought a rocky patch. That is expected but we know how good we are as players and a team and it's up to us to win as many games as we can.
"We have the Glens next which is another massive game and we know how dangerous they can be from the Irish Cup game. They are a very good team and to be fair there was very little in the game.
"It was a late penalty and just too late for us to respond. I felt that we were just unlucky at the end."